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Saturday September 2, 2006No. 5 VB Sweeps No. 7 Hawai'i Before Crowd of 8,000-Plus Fans

HONOLULU

Junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) tallied a double-double with 14 kills and 12 digs, while freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) recorded a match-high 21 digs in leading No. 5 Florida to a sweep of No. 7 Hawai’i (30-20, 30-26, 30-23) on the first day of the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic before a crowd of 8,138 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center.

 

The Gators (3-0) swept Hawai’i (2-1) at home for just the 18th time in the Rainbow Wahine’s 33-year-plus history and handed UH its first loss on the opening day of the Wahine Classic – a tournament that typically features ranked teams throughout the nation and is in its 19th edition.

 

“This match looked like an early season match for both teams,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Neither team was in mid-season form. We were fortunate that we got blocks early on and did a great job of establishing that. We drilled our players all week about being focused – whether it was starting or finishing a game – and they responded well tonight.”

 

Florida out-hit Hawai’i .287-.096 and finished with more kills (43-42), digs (57-47) aces (4-1) and blocks (12.0-6.0). Coming off the second triple-double of her career last week, junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) has a solid showing with 37 assists, six digs and four blocks. Junior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) added 10 kills on .350 hitting with four blocks, while sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) chimed in with six kills and six blocks. Senior defensive specialist Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas) also reached double figures with 11 digs.

 

Florida spoiled Hawai’i coach Dave Shoji’s bid to become just the second coach in NCAA history to amass 900 career wins as the Gators won their fourth-consecutive match in the series.

 

The Rainbow Wahine opened the match by taking a 3-1 lead, but Florida stormed back and took control of game one in cruising to a 30-20 win. Following the initial 3-1 deficit, Florida rallied for five consecutive points behind the serve of Davis in moving on top 6-3. The teams traded points with Hawai’i coming within one at 11-10 following a Jessica Keefe kill. But Florida put 11 of the next 13 points on the scoreboard in building a 22-12 advantage. Davis, Cusack and sophomore defensive specialist Christina Diaz (Hollywood, Fla.) provided strong serving in the stretch with Hampton leading UF with three kills in the run. Hawai’i never came closer than eight the rest of the way before Hampton ended the game with a kill from the left side. Florida hit .517 (17-2-29) with Hampton leading all players with eight kills on 11 swings (.727 hitting) and Cusack pacing all players with eight digs. Hawai’i hit just .026 (11-10-38) as Florida out-blocked the Rainbow Wahine 3.0-0.0

 

The second game featured 13 ties and seven lead changes, but a late 7-1 run proved critical as Florida went on top 2-0 with a 30-26 win. From the onset, the teams traded points back and forth with neither team mounting an advantage larger than three points. After the Gators had fallen behind 20-18, Florida tallied the next five points to surge ahead 23-20 as UF recorded blocks on three of the five points. After the Rainbow Wahine stopped the run with a point, the Gators added two more to move ahead 25-21. Hawai’i closed the gap to 25-23, but the Gators scored the next two on a McCray solo block and a UH attack error. Hawai’i again fought back with the next three tallies to pull within one at 27-26. Florida responded again and closed out the game with the final three points on a Hampton kill, block assists from Bowers and McGinnis and a UH attack error. Florida had only 10 kills on the game on .100 hitting, but the Gators recorded 7.0 total blocks to make up for it. Junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.), Bowers and McCray each amassed three blocks, while Cusack added a game-high six digs.

 

Trailing midway through the third game, Florida dug deep and gutted out a 5-1 run that proved to be the springboard in a 30-23 victory. After Hawai’i took an early 5-2 lead, the Gators responded with six consecutive points to go in front 8-5 as Hampton notched a pair of kills in the run. UH eventually responded by pulling even at 12-12 and later moving ahead 15-13. After Florida tied the game at 16-16 on a Bowers kill, Hawai’i again took the lead at 17-16. The Gators answered with a decisive 5-1 run to pull ahead 21-18 after a Hawai’i attack error. The Rainbow Wahine came as close as two points at 22-20 and after coming within three at 24-21, Florida effectively put the match away by scoring four straight points behind Diaz’s serving. The Gators eventually ended the contest after a Hawai’i ball-handling error on match point. Bowers led UF with five kills on .714 hitting, while Cusack again paced the Gators with seven digs in the game. Florida out-hit Hawai’i .308-.159 in the frame.

 

Florida returns to action Saturday, Sept. 2 when the Gators face No. 10 UCLA (4-0) at 10:30 p.m. (ET). The match will be joined in progress on WRUF-AM 850 following the conclusion of the Florida football post game show. The contest can also be heard on www.GatorZone.com.

 

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